Despite the Islamic prohibition on interest or riba, many, if not most Muslims have credit cards. While it’s possible to use a credit card and never pay interest by paying off the full credit card balance each month, it doesn’t always work out this way. Any number of situations such as emergencies, unexpected expenses, unstable income or loss of employment can lead people to carry a balance on their card and accrue interest on their debt. From there, getting out of debt can become a very difficult challenge.
Of all the things that observant Muslims try to avoid, interest is the most challenging. It seems impossible to get by in today's world without it. How do you finance your education, buy a home, start a business or get out of a jam when you can't borrow money with interest? What does Islam say about it? Is all interest bad? What is interest for? How does it work? What does it do to people and society?
Recently the Ottawa Citizen reprinted published an article titled “Nobel winner Professor Yunus defies ouster call”. The article mentioned that supporters of Prof. Muhammad Yunus in the West were deeply concerned by what they saw as politicized attempt by the government of Bangladesh to remove him from Grameen Bank which he founded.
The global financial crisis has exposed the failure of the laissez-faire, unregulated free market capitalism. Governments of a number of industrialised countries allocated an excess of $7 trillion in bailout and liquidity injections to revive their economies. Despite this “helicopter money”, capitalist market economies are not yet out of the woods. Sovereign debt is the latest episode.
“Imported” capitalism in the Muslim world has begun faltering. It now appears that the city of Dubai and the much-touted Grameen Bank experiment may not be as successful as they were initially made out to be.